I’m Gonna Live Forever!

Fame is a name I’m not sure to forget. It marked a notable shift for both musicals and teen movies at the time. Although it was the very beginning of 1980, Fame already felt like an extended music video. The Academy Award winning Best Original Song “Fame” is a perfect reflection of the decade to come. Director Alan Parker also encouraged heavier topics that teen movies rarely dealt with at the time. Fame takes place at the New York High School of Performing Arts from the audition process all through Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year. We follow the three major branches of entertainment including Drama, Music, and Dance. Although I can personally relate to being a Drama student, being a performer is not as universal as the many teen problems that the cast deals with. Coco Hernandez is a triple threat with big dreams played by the late Irene Cara.

Cara is a natural talent who sings the Oscar winning title song and the Oscar nominated piano ballad “Out Here On My Own.” Coco’s pursuit of fame has disturbing consequences when she ends up at a seedy porno shoot. Bruno Martelli is a music student with a cab driving father who supports his use of electronic music. It’s because of his father that Bruno’s music can be heard in the streets. Leroy Johnson is a tough black dancer discovered by accident who deals with illiteracy and a disapproving teacher played by Anne Meara. Gene Anthony Ray couldn’t overcome his own personal problems before his untimely death. Leroy’s story takes him in many directions that include sleeping with white dancing partner Hilary Van Doren. Lisa Monroe is another dancing student who contemplates suicide when her dreams are denied. Other problems like teen pregnancy are simply alluded to.

The main characters are arguably Drama students Montgomery MacNeil, Doris Finsecker, and Ralph Garci. A young Paul McCrane is awkward closeted gay student Montgomery. He eventually comes out and makes friends with Doris. The Irish Maureen Teefy plays the Jewish Doris who gains confidence through acting. Most of the drama is given to Barry Miller even though Ralph is an aspiring comedian. Ralph is an angry Puerto Rican youth who finds comfort in Doris and Montgomery eventually. Fame earns its R rating with mature language and random nude girls in a changing room. Other random moments include a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a full “Time Warp” routine. The direction can feel a bit open ended, but I don’t think it’s supposed to have all the answers. At least by the end everyone is given the chance to perform at graduation. Leaving the door open for several TV spin-offs to come. Fame encouraged talented teens around the world to dream big.


Students dance in the street

9 thoughts on “I’m Gonna Live Forever!

  1. Iโ€™ve heard about Fame, never had an interest in seeing it though. The Simpsons immortalized it when Nelson Muntz says about a ballet performance โ€œthis reminds me of the show Fame, which was also based on the movie called Fame.โ€

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this movie when it first came out, and always felt it was much better than the TV spin-off that followed. It looked and felt different from other musicals, and seemed to set a template that inspired other movies and TV shows, including Flashdance and Glee.

    Liked by 1 person

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